Our planet is full of impressive natural beauties that arouse the curiosity and amazement of those who observe them. One of them can be seen in a group of unique rock formations, the Moeraki stone spheres.
Giant stone spheres found all over the world have intrigued scientists, geologists and travelers due to their mysterious shape and origin. An example of this is off the coast of New Zealand’s South Island, where huge rounded rocks scattered on Koekohe beacha small town on the Otago coast, have inspired theories and legends, turning them into a truly fascinating natural phenomenon.
How were the Moeraki rocks formed?
THE Moeraki rocks or also called boulders, of variable size, some can reach more than two meters in diameter and weigh several tons. One of the things that most intrigues curious minds is how these strange and perfect spheres were formed.
The most widely accepted scientific theory on the origin of the Moeraki stone spheres is that they formed over millions of years. accumulations of sediments and minerals on the seabed. These accumulations are thought to have solidified and hardened as the minerals precipitated and adhered, creating concentric layers of stone around a central core.
The outer layer of each Moeraki boulder is hard. Detailed analysis of the rocks using an electron microprobe, optical mineralogy and X-ray crystallography determined that the outer rim consists of 10-20% of a mineral called calcite.
It is estimated that the largest rocks took about 4 million years to reach their current size. As time and erosion acted on these accumulations, the surrounding stone wore away faster than the inner core, resulting in the characteristic shape of a sphere.
Early historical records of Moeraki rocks
Although Maori ancestors occupied the vicinity of the Otago coast for hundreds of years, documentation of Moeraki stones only occurred with the involvement of Europeans.
The world only discovered these unique spheres in 1814, when Walter Mantellpolitician and scientist in geology and paleontology, documented as part of his work the concretions in a sketch by the sea, dated 1848. In this one, coat showed the presence of a greater quantity of beach stones than today.
Moeraki rocks were first documented centuries ago.
Mantle’s father Gideon Mantel (1790-1852), was also a geologist and paleontologist. His work on iguanodon had a significant influence on the study of dinosaurs. In 1850 he published a book, Notice of the Remains of the Dinornis and other Birds…, in which he included the following observations made by Walter while working on the Otago coast.
“Halfway between Bluff and Moeraki, the clay contains layers of septaria. [concreciones], varying in diameter from one to five feet and more. Hundreds of these nodules, from clay cliffs undermined by the advancing sea, were scattered along the beach. Other spherical; many were whole, while others were shattered and glistened with yellow and brown limestone crystals. (As shown in the sketch, Fig. 5. Some were subglobular.)
Mythology and Legends
The Moeraki rocks are not only enigmatic from a scientific point of view, but have also been linked to the maori mythology, where these spheres have a magical and mystical connotation. According to one of their legends, the rocks are the remains of shipwrecked “canoes” which were turned to stone after the hero Maui arrived on Earth aboard a great mythical ship called the “Arai-te-Uru“.
On the other hand, the ancient inhabitants of the region believed that these rocks were in fact fossilized dragon eggs left in place thousands of years ago. While some associate these rocks with fossilized dinosaur eggs.
Due to their odd shape and size, the spherical rocks of Moeraki were once believed to be dragon eggs.
A fascinating tourist attraction
For decades, the massive Moeraki Rocks have attracted tourists and travellers, becoming a major landmark on the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island.
To protect these unique formations, the area where they are located has been designated as a nature reserve, called Moeraki Wildlife Management Reserve. This helps preserve not only the spheres themselves, but also the fragile coastal ecosystem that surrounds them.
The best time to see the Moeraki spheres is at low tide, this happens twice a day and exposes all the rocks on the beach to be enjoyed in their full size.
It may interest you: The enigma of the stone spheres scattered throughout the world.
Although the New Zealand’s Moeraki Boulders They are a fascinating example of the beauty and rarity that nature can create, the touch of mythology and mystery that surrounds them continues to captivate those who gaze upon them, reminding us of the endless wonders of our planet.
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